Valentino Rossi got his first taste of the thrilling Portimao circuit when he joined many of his MotoGP rivals for Wednesday's track familiarisation.

The race riders, with the exception of Concession manufacturer Aprilia, were confined to production bikes, meaning Rossi and team-mate Maverick Vinales took to the Portuguese track on R1 Superbikes.

"Riding here is very interesting, because the track is beautiful and technically quite difficult," said Rossi, who has experienced more world championship circuits than any other rider on the grid, having made his grand prix debut back in 1996.

"It‘s a very strange track because of the many elevation changes. But it‘s beautiful and the asphalt is good, it has good grip. You can enjoy it a lot when you‘re riding here.

"It looked more difficult on television, a bit more tricky, but in real life it‘s good. There are three or four points that are a bit scary, because you have big jumps. It will be difficult to keep a MotoGP bike in contact with the ground there, but in general it‘s a very sweet track to ride, so I like it.

"It was also a good day for a test here, because we had good conditions, which is important when you‘re getting familiar with a new track."

Vinales was one of the few race riders to use a timing transponder, setting a 1m 43.699s on his R1, which was 3.5s from the best MotoGP bike time set by Aleix Espargaro.

"The track is different from what we are used to, because of the changes in elevation, and most of the corners have blind entries. But overall I felt really good," said the Spaniard.

"It‘s the kind of track that I like, because you need a lot of flow and corner speed. I already had a good feeling with my standard street bike and I think it will be even better when I‘ll ride with the MotoGP bike, I'll be even faster.

"The track looks amazing and it‘s a lot of fun to ride. The biggest challenge here are wheelies. We will have to work hard on this because there‘s a lot of changes in elevation and we need front contact, so we will have to change the bike a bit, for sure.

"The last corner here is amazing, I love it. I expected the track to be longer, it‘s actually quite short, but I like it."

Official test riders from each manufacturer were also on track, with Jorge Lorenzo making only his second appearance this year for Yamaha.

Still riding a 2019 bike, the retired triple MotoGP champion was slowest of those with timing transponders, lapping 4.7s behind Espargaro, but hopes to make a 'big step' on Thursday's final day.

"Of course it's not easy to start riding a MotoGP bike again after a nine-month break," Lorenzo said. "Tomorrow we are going to play with the settings some more to see if we can improve and make a big step.

"The track is wonderful. It's unique, compared to other tracks it has a lot of elevation changes, and that's a lot of fun to ride. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a good feeling, and we can get more work done."

While Lorenzo and the other test riders continue at Portimao on Thursday, the MotoGP race riders will be arriving at Le Mans for this weekend's French MotoGP.

The inaugural Portimao MotoGP event will take place as the 2020 season finale from November 20-22.

 

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